Water managers urge tougher restrictions in WPB

By Chuck Weber - email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - This time of year our days are long, hot and dry. Evaporation is at its worst. And we're in the middle of a drought.

With a water system relying on wetlands and lakes, the city of West Palm Beach is especially vulnerable. But is the city moving fast enough toward tougher water restrictions? The South Florida Water Management District has voiced some concerns.

"I understand we're going to one day a week," lamented Edward Mallen, a West Palm Beach homeowner with an immaculate green lawn. "That's going to make it difficult to keep the grass alive."

Last week West Palm Beach city commissioners approved going to once-a-week lawn watering, when it becomes necessary. Water managers have strongly urged the city restrictions should start very soon.

While most water systems have wells, West Palm Beach's water supply relies on a system of wetlands and lakes, where evaporation happens more quickly.

The City told the Water District it has under three months worth of water supply, with no rain. West Palm also told water managers it would go to one day-a-week watering when down to a one- to two- month supply.

But in a letter to West Palm Beach, the Water District's Peter Kwiatkowski writes, "We have concerns that this may not be sufficient in ensuring the City an adequate water supply through this very-dry dry season. We request the City re-evaluate their water supply situation."

City spokesman Peter Robbins responded that the City is communicating with the Water District daily, taking daily water readings, and is prepared to go to the tougher restrictions quickly.

"It's a mixed bag to go to one day restrictions," commented Mayor Lois Frankel. "Trying to enforce it and educate the public. There's not that much savings."

Frankel strongly urged her residents to voluntarily reduce their consumption of water as much as possible.

The city of Lake Worth is already on once a week lawn watering, because of low levels in the city's wells. The Water District says it plans to keep the rest of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast on twice a week watering.